Improsium – 24 Aug 2010

It is universally agreed (at least amongst us Maydays) that today was a bit of a bloody brilliant success. Little did we realise at the beginning of the month that we would be organising the first Edinburgh Fringe Improv Symposium (or Improsium as we now call it). To be fair, it was actually Heather that arranged it all, booked the panel, organised the guests, room etc, but we are taking the credit (obviously).

We were very lucky to get the very lovely Mike McShane (Whose Line is it Anyway, Comedy Store Players, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves), Dylan Emery (Showstopper: The Improvised Musical), Tom Livingstone (Noise Next Door, Chaos Control) and of course our very own Katy Schutte (The Maydays, Katy and Rach, Musicbox).

From the seed of an idea a mere week and a half before, Heather (who also chaired the event) managed to rally 70-plus improvisers from 23 different companies hailing from all round the world.

I think everyone would agree that there was a brilliant atmosphere in the venue (generously donated by The Underbelly), which really proved to us all the amount of passion, excitement and professionalism there is surrounding improvisational performance in this country and beyond.

Themes that came up from the day included different types of improv being performed, the popularity of it on the Continent, trying to make a living from it, breaking into corporate improv and marketing shows.

The event was rounded up by a chance for each improv company to introduce themselves: it became apparent, very quickly, how much variety, talent and desire there is to collaborate in the improv community. The whole occasion generated a lively debate that could have easily carried on much longer; in fact next year we hope to give ourselves a bigger window of time for discussion. Yes, next year – watch out for ‘Improsium 2’ appearing at next year’s fringe, but in the meantime, here is a badly recorded podcast of the whole event (to follow due to technical issues).

Still on a high from the day’s earlier buzz, we headed to The Bongo Club to do a cabaret slot, hosted by the fabulous Dusty Limits – we did a blues and a ballad – followed by a mad dash, with minutes to spare, to our venue for that night’s show.

The ‘Laydays’ (the female contingent of The Maydays) together with music maestro Alan Grice on the ‘ivories’ did a very good show, complemented by Funny Women founder and producer, Lynne Parker, as our guest. Great moments included ‘when male pop singers go bad’ and ‘the woman with 17 eggs’. Look out for today’s video clip.

Days like these make the debt, late nights and lurgy seem worth every minute. Woohoo!